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How to motivate employees during uncertain times


Motivation accounts for 40 percent of the success of team projects, yet leaders are often at a loss as to how to effectively motivate uninspired employees. A large part of a leader’s role is to provide structure and guidance, yet many workplace studies highlight the fact that a healthy work environment isn’t just about a strong framework, but more importantly about fostering internal motivation.


Successful leaders foster internal motivation by empowering employees’ sense that they are responsible for their actions and have the autonomy to make choices that are aligned with their own values, goals, and interests, as well as their team’s. Months of remote working have unsurprisingly affected motivation and performance for many, and today leaders need to focus on identifying ongoing employee struggles and to empathetically help employees address their challenges.


Closing the communication gap


Leaders who make time to listen to their employees’ perspectives and making them be heard and valued, can create a sense of belonging and psychological safety. In large organisations, some employees might get lost in the crowd, so it’s important to highlight each person’s contribution and achievement and not to let success go unacknowledged. Acknowledging and validating employees’ emotions and reactions is essential, and so is communicating the importance of employee wellbeing, not just their productivity.


Regular and clear communication about the organisation’s purpose and brand motivates employees, builds resilience and positions employees to emerge stronger. Consistent, ongoing communication from top-down prevents employees from making assumptions and positions them to better understand what is expected as they push the organisation forward. A value-driven organisational culture is always better prepared to navigate crises, as alignment on core values can improve decision-making and enables leaders to stay consistent in their communication and messaging to their teams.


Wellbeing and compassion


Whilst previously employee wellbeing might have been seen as a personal matter, today it is imperative. As we navigate various transitions during the pandemic, leaders are likely to see employees struggle with anxiety, depression, burnout and trauma. However, even during the most uncertain times, the role of a leader remains the same - to support your team members, including supporting their mental health. Leaders don’t need to be mental health experts, but they need to be the trusted link to the right resources. Prioritising individual wellbeing is easier said than done for many, and therefore it’s important for leaders to communicate that self-care is more than a trip to the spa.


Many leaders mistakenly avoid self-compassion, believing that it means being week and will lead to being complacent. However, self-compassion is the foundation for resilience and helps leaders develop the courage to face hard facts. In simple terms, self-compassion is about taking a perspective towards ourselves as we would with others who are facing a challenge or setback and the key elements include kindness, common humanity and mindfulness. Research suggests that leaders who exercise self-compassion have higher levels of emotional intelligence are better able to maintain calm when under pressure and tend to experience more happiness and optimism.


At Acumen, we pride ourselves in offering development that gives managers practical tools to help solve real-life challenges. We offer an extensive menu of courses, workshops and coaching programmes, ranging from communication skills through to executive leadership development. In most cases, we design the interventions specifically for each client, but we also offer a wide range of off-the-shelf programmes for those who prefer this approach. For more information about our programmes please contact Simon at simon@askacumen.com.


 

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